Just How Badly Do You Want Mobile Internet Access?
By Mike Masnick, Mon Oct 04 23:15:00 GMT 2004

Connecting on the go isn't always easy, and a growing number of executives are getting increasingly frustrated about the difficulties of mobile access. Maybe it's time that the wireless industry spent more time getting things right.

A few weeks ago, there was a study to see how people dealt with having absolutely no Internet access for a period of two weeks. While that may seem difficult, it appears that a growing number of users, can't even handle the time away from their desks without Internet access. This will come as no surprise to many people frequenting this site, but when people want mobile access, the last thing they want to find out is that it's not available or doesn't work right.

A new survey claims that mobile Internet access problems are the third biggest frustration among for business travelers. In fact, 14% of those surveyed were so stressed out by a lack of mobile Internet access, that they claim they would accept a pay cut for better on-the-go access. While this might explain the high prices companies always seem to charge upon first introducing mobile access services (just like a pay cut!), a more reasonable interpretation is that people are really frustrated that mobile Internet access never seems to work the way it's been promised. Hotels are already discovering the wrath of guests who find the Wi-Fi doesn't work.

The lessons, though, are simple. There's obviously a very strong demand for mobile Internet access -- but with that demand comes high expectations. Not meeting those expectations is much worse than if people had no access at all in the first place. This means that service providers looking to offer on-the-go access, whether by Wi-Fi, cellular or some other technology, need to properly manage expectations. The service actually needs to work, it needs to be easy to setup and it needs to be easy to get online. Unfortunately, some of these aspects aren't that simple to implement, but service providers are going to find themselves in a worse position if they offer service that doesn't meet those criteria.